Another bundle of fun in the Angela Marchmont series of murder mysteries set in the twenties. This is the seventh, and the author is absolutely on top form. After the wonderful outing in Italy in The Imbroglio at the Villa Pozzi, here we are back in the heart of England, at the very respectable village home of Angela’s brother, Sir Humphrew Cardew and his wife Elisabeth, two of the most pompous, stuffy and dull people imaginable. They disapprove of Angela and everything about her, and although she sets out not to ruffle their feathers, naturally she can’t help getting into trouble almost immediately.
The village setting, and the murder that takes place against a backdrop of the village fete, is redolent of Midsomer Murders, or perhaps the Miss Marple series of Agatha Christie. There are eccentric characters in abundance – an elderly lady on a bicycle, the gossipy vicar’s wife and so on. Angela’s aristocratic reporter pal, Freddy, turns up, as well, together with an even more outrageous reporter from a rival newspaper, who proceeds to trample all over the case, and, when facts are in short supply, makes things up. And then there’s the brother’s mother-in-law, who isn’t quite the meek little old lady she appears to be.
The local police are augmented by Inspector Jameson, but even so, it takes Angela’s determination to solve the case. However, as usual in this series, the murder takes second place to the characters and the little side-stories which are so cleverly woven into the story, such as the sister seemingly about to marry a very dull man for lack of other options, and Angela’s maid trying to find out what, exactly, her mistress got up to in Italy. And the humour, of course. The Cardews are perhaps my favourites for laughs here, but with Freddy, the rival reporter, the old lady and the vicar’s wife, I was entertained from beginning to end. And a charming little romance, as well. An excellent five stars.